Teaching Grammar Doesn't Have to be Painful | Mentoring in the Middle

Teaching Grammar Doesn't Have to be Painful

It's embarrassing to admit:  How many times did I wish that elementary teachers had "just done their jobs" and taught students the difference between a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb?

How wrong of me to be so judgmental, but, boy I was!  How could these kids not know what a noun was?

It turns out students did know, for the most part, but after a summer away from school, it wasn't front and center in their thinking.  Nor should it have been.

And so we began with mini-lessons and ended up with "Writing Fridays" when we recognized how intertwined reading was to writing.


Along the way, we stopped for good review work.  One was NoRedInk, which I came to appreciate on a couple of levels.

  • it asks students to select favorite movies and icons and builds their work around those interests, so everything is personalized
  • it holds students to high standards, with lessons if they struggle 
  • it gives teachers feedback on how their students are doing so that you can pull some kids to work with, in small groups

We worked with mentor sentences to strengthen our writing.  What better way to become strong writers than to imitate what published authors are doing?  We identified parts of speech in the sentences before we started playing around with writing our own.  It felt like identifying grammar that way sank in a little more.

Students enjoyed these a lot, and some of them took off on stories that they came back to work on week after week.  Whether they wrote a new story each week or kept going, the lessons we learned from those mentor sentences showed up regularly in their writing!


Another way to get at grammar skills is with Boom cards.  Have you tried them yet?  My students really enjoyed playing them!  There are a lot of good gamified apps out there, but Boom cards are something my students came back to regularly.  I liked that I could focus on a particular skill in each set, like these:

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